All posts by Liz Pena

About Liz Pena

Liz is a a Florida based music writer, model, and artist who has been surrounded by live music her entire life. Her favorite artists are Jimi Hendrix, Melanie Martinez, and Bayside. She has a passion for travel, the outdoors, and live music of all kinds.

[Concert Review] Slayer at St. Augustine Amphitheater

Slayer's appearance at the St. Augustine Amphitheater was by far the heaviest show to come through town all summer.

Photo By Louie of SelfMade Visionz

Slayer’s recent appearance at northeast Florida’s St. Augustine Amphitheater was by far the heaviest show to come through town all summer. I struggle to think of a heavier tour of this year and, reflecting on it, it may honestly be the heaviest metal show I have ever seen live.

Behemoth and Lamb of God came along with the California-based thrash metal mainstay. Despite the intensity and filth of the opening sets, Slayer delivered the explosive show we all expected. Their sonic insanity and signature aggression is unsurpassed and pulled immense energy from their eagerly awaiting fans.

The fans were already pumped after Lamb of God’s set. As the gap between sets ended, the amphitheater’s lights went down and a white curtain covered the stage. Black crosses were projected on the curtain and an opening riff began to build from behind it. It seemed that the sky darkened just as their set began – just as the black crosses turned blood red and inverted. Demonic symbols and pentacles bounced across the curtain as the music emerging from behind it grew in intensity.

There was an immense enthusiasm from fans at this show. Many, in their over excitement, became belligerent and would end up missing Slayer’s set, but the real die-hards would never dream of it. Before that curtain dropped the electricity in the crowd was palpable, but after it fell, the energy was absolutely incendiary.

There was intense chanting from the audience through Slayer’s entire set. Their presence is dirty, satanic and aggressive. The production quality on the tour is epic, but their behavior is not as offensive or insane as one might expect. They are clearly focused on musicianship above everything else.

Bassist/lead singer Tom Araya has a visceral growl and clarity on his vocals. His long grey hair hangs in his face like the locks of a hellish wizard, and he never sacrifices his performance to interact with the audience. He has an ability to move the audience like a shepherd’s flock or a cult leader’s masses. Their heads crash up and down in synchronicity with the guitars, while their mouths shout blasphemous lyrics and their eyes stare wide in awe.

Slayer brought a literal wall of flames to the amphitheater that nearly reached the stage’s covered ceiling. When fire was not shooting up in sheets, criss-crossing fireballs flew rapidly across the stage. It was the only display of major pyrotechnics I have ever seen at the venue. The production on this tour has been meticulously planned to create the most confrontational show possible. Black light brush strokes depicted impaled and cried gods across a massive pentagram-emblazoned backdrop.  These elements make Slayer’s stage show one that fans will come back tor time and time again.

The pit was for the ruthless. Men in helmets, face masks and padding that bordered on raid gear crashed into each other. Large bodies, covered in blood (both real and fake) crowd surfed toward their idols. There were awestruck kids in pigtails and earplugs and even a 10-year-old dog who “loves metal but [was] at his very first Slayer show.”

Each member of Slayer has an obvious level of finesse that translates extremely well live. Guitar riffs from Gary Holt are meticulous and artful. He cracked a smile while peering out into the sea of black T-shirts and loose hair. Hundreds of fans in Slayer shirts from  past tours stared on as he tweaked his whammy bar and his fingers danced up and down the neck of his guitar.

Beams and flashes of light that matched the pyrotechnics moved through the air above the audience’s heads. Bass-heavy drums from Paul Bostaph were delivered with a fast-paced aggression. There was a noticeably impressive energy to a live performance from Bostaph. His expansive kit was set up on a high platform where he could command the attention of the audience beneath him. Heavy chains swung from the hips of founding guitarist Kerry King as he moved across the stage shredding hellish thrash-metal riffs.

Each pause between songs was filled with swelling, deafening cheers. Slayer uses the stage like the experienced performers that they are, though their show has obviously been toned down a little over the past 35 or so years. Slayer delivers a finessed artistry and dark aggression that makes them one of the few truly old school metal acts still touring today.

[AltWire Interview] Singer-songwriter Corey Kilgannon

Corey Kilgannon is an acoustic singer-songwriter who recently returned to his hometown of Jacksonville Beach, Florida. His unique indie folk music has honest, poignant lyrics and tender but powerful guitars that reach out to audiences on an emotional level. He has released a few well-received records over the past several years, including Hospital Hymns and The Hollow. With a new album coming out this fall, upcoming tour dates and several other ventures, Corey Kilgannon has a big year planned for the rest of 2017. I had a chance to catch up with him at The Brunch Haus to discuss his musical process, being back in Jacksonville and what is next for him. Big thanks to Corey for speaking with us.

Watch the full interview below, or read on for the full transcript:

Which songs of yours would you suggest a first-time listener check out?

It depends what kind of listener you are. I think my most popular song is “The Whale Song” which is pretty easy access emotionally and pretty fun musically. If you really love sad boy music and want to dig deep into something that hurts you then maybe “The Rhine” or “Rosanna.”

When did you begin learning to play and write music? What was your process like?

I got a guitar when I was 8 and really fell in love with it throughout middle school and high school. It always just sort of clicked. I think we have a society that doesn’t value being a musician so I doubted it a lot all through growing up. I started playing shows when I was 15. I went to Douglas Anderson, which is the arts high school here and went off to college for music – probably [age] 18 is when I started putting out records.

Throughout 2016 you had a blog to tell fans a little information on your music and yourself. Do you plan to update that in 2017?

I do. I really like writing them. I think that I could write one about every single song and maybe people would be interested to read it [but] I put most of my ideas into songs. The record I’m working on – there are a lot of back stories I should probably shine a light on. Anytime I can get my hands on the story of how someone wrote a song or why they wrote it or what led up to it I find it really interesting. Eventually I would like to do that for every song.

Are there any projects that you are working on besides your solo music?

I have a side project called Radiant Phaedrus that is just a little acoustic thing I started. I produce it all myself. It is a purely creative outlet. I’m in the middle of producing a record. I love to make records if there are younger artists or people that are not necessarily ready for a big, proper studio experience. We love to have them come over to the house and we just make little indie DIY records.

How did moving to Nashville influence you as a musician, if at all?

I recently moved back [but] I still spend a lot of time in Nashville. I moved there about 5 years ago. I went to school for about 2 years and then I started making music and making EPs and touring. I was basing myself out of there so it is still home base for most things I do musically. When I went there, I was immediately challenged. There was an incredible amount of talent from the dive bars with the cover country music, to the studios there, everybody there wants to make it and they really play like that. I think I was forced to learn to play and get better or give up. It really challenged me to work harder. I certainly didn’t make a country album yet that is the Nashville sound, but we’ll see.

Which of your upcoming tour dates are you most excited about? Are there any cities or venues that you are really excited to hit?

Yeah! So we are doing the show here (The Brunch Haus in Jacksonville Beach, Fla.). We’re good friends with everybody here at The Brunch Haus and hoping to do events regularly. The goal is two acts. The first will be a variety show -videos, poems, or anything, then we wil play. All of August we will be playing. We are playing a little festival in Wisconsin which seems really fun. We’re going to Boston and playing at a venue called Atwood’s Tavern; I haven’t played there since I was 17. I was on a crazy adventure tour and played an open mic in Boston.

What are some of your favorite things to do when you are here in Jacksonville?

We live right on the beach so I’m a very bad to average surfer. I love going out in the water swimming around. I grew up on the beach so I am a beach kid. We play music a lot. Dan, who runs [The Brunch Haus] and my sister both cook. We like to all cook and eat together. I read a lot of books, go for walks – I’m a pretty mellow guy. It is a pretty slow culture around here. The stuff I have written since I’ve been back has gotten very chill. I am fortunate to travel a ton and see a lot of cities. When I do get a week, or two, or a month off I enjoy getting to relax a lot and Jacksonville is good for that.

What is next for you musically? Are there any big projects you are working on or new music that you are writing?

Yeah! So the album we are putting out this fall we have been working on for about 2 years. I did it in New York in a studio with two old friends and that is going to be basically the follow up to my first full length EP. It is full band, very ethereal, sonically lots of electronic instruments, drums, and strings. It is a very produced record. Three of us played everything except one of my buddies does all the string arrangements. It is still pretty homegrown. That record is very broody and dark; a lot of the songs are three, four years old. I’m working on writing some more that are a little beachier. That is where I’m at creatively right now is writing beachy, happy songs.

When you write and play your music do you find it is more for yourself, your fans, or both? How do you find a balance there?

I think it is of course a combination. When it starts, it is pretty purely something that I need to do and want to do. I feel them coming on for a few days and start writing little words and notes, gathering information, and then I usually wake up and get in a weird zone and write a song. It definitely always starts, not selfishly, but for me. It is my process of learning things that are in my head and putting them together. Then, I go from there and do a lot of editing, more for the listener. It is getting the final thoughts in a better order, stitching it together in a way that makes it easier to listen to and more enjoyable. That process is to make it so people want to listen to it and it is not just for me.

What is the number one thing that you hope for fans to feel when they listen to your music?

The more that I release songs and the more people respond to it, the common thread is something a little deeper than happiness or sadness but I suppose just understood. I try to write them from a standpoint that is like, “Here are my flaws; I’m okay with them. Here are my joys, I’m okay with them.” This is just the way I’m living my life and I have questions about things but it is okay. I want them to feel like the thoughts in their head – it is okay to be thinking them. Whether that is deep grief or happy love songs, wherever you are at in life is just part of the process. My songs are just time stamps for places I have been. It is less of a message of happiness or a message of sadness, just like everything is going to be okay.


[Artists To Watch] Resinated

Resinated are a St Petersburg, Florida four piece who blend a reggae feel with funk, pop and rock influences. At a show at 1904 Music Hall in Jacksonville, Florida, I recently had a chance to speak with them about their current headlining tour sponsored by Magical Butter, their sound and what it takes to get a taste of popularity.

Drummer and percussionist Josh Hasak told me about the group’s tenacious work ethic and ambition, adding that “there are a lot of great things in the works.” They recently worked with producer Justin Gray from Dirtyheads and the band’s new single ‘Up All Night’ is coming soon.

Magical Butter, a company specializing in botanical extractor machines, discovered Resinated through another band and decided to sponsor them. “We were allowed to take over their social media, but then we got a little bit crazy with it and they were like, too much!” On a more serious note, they are proud to work with Magical Butter and support the company as part of the movement for marijuana to be legalized. Like most reggae acts, they embrace a 420 Friendly attitude, but they are also passionate about the idea of cannabis as a medicine that needs to be accessible to patients in need.

Whilst their music definitely has a reggae vibe, the band say that they are not restricted by genre and simply set out to make “hip, modern, catchy music” above all else. Jeff Applefield (keys/vocals) described their sound as “funk, dance, groove, rock… positive, feel-good music. You wont hear any cursing in our songs. Family friendly, good vibes and good feelings. It’s chicken soup for your ears.” With characteristic humor, front man Kenny Mullins interjected, “And who doesn’t want chicken soup in their ears and around them?!”The band were especially passionate when sharing their tips for upcoming bands hoping gain sponsorship, perform headline shows, and tour as Resinated have been able to do. They shared with me their top ten tips for acts still working toward their first taste of recognition:

1. Built a relationship with fans: “Keep playing and street teaming.”

2. Never be complacent: “Even when you think you got something you ain’t got shit.”

3. Be patient: “It’ll only happen overnight if you have a couple million bucks… you’ve really got to hustle and grind.”

4. Prepare for hard times: “It takes 60% of your money.”

5. Hard work is the key: “Hustle like you just started the band yesterday, all the time.”

6. Stay grounded: “All the successful people I know are humble, ’cause they were totally broke at one point.”

7. Play every gig you can: “Go to jams 10 days a week, [put] in the time and [play] for 10 people.”

8. Educate yourself: “Music theory makes it a lot easier… we all took lessons.”

9. Practice makes perfect: “Practice your fucking ass off. Like Dave Grohl said, go in a garage and suck until you don’t suck any more.”

10. Be true to yourself: “Sound like yourself and do what you do best. Like in Cool Runnings: ‘We’re not the Swiss. We’re Jamaican. Be Jamaican!'”

Hasak believes that by following these principles, “Eventually you find your niche of where you sit in the big tree of music. Eventually you come up with something like what we are about to put on.”

Watching Resinated play live, it is clear that they take their own advice. They engage with the audience and have a dynamic sound. They were well supported by Dubwise, Ries Brothers, and The Ellameno Beat for a night of low key good vibes in downtown Jacksonville.

Big thanks to all the guys for speaking with us. Keep up with us here at Altwire for Resinated’s upcoming releases and more new interview features with our favorite acts to watch.

[Artists To Watch] The Ellameno Beat

It is always a pleasure to be around musicians with genuine enthusiasm and deep-rooted passion for their art. An immense energy and real joy radiates from within people who truly love their craft. Reggie Froom is one of those hard to find people. Reggie is the charismatic, long-haired vocalist and founder of reggae crossover group The Ellameno Beat. Speaking with him at the 1904 Music Hall after The Ellameno Beat’s good-vibes set to get some insight on the story behind the group’s come up, influences and future was a pleasure.

Reggie and I spoke on the venue’s mural-covered patio as Resinated played the main stage and fans and friends hung out nearby. He explained that he had recently relocated from South Florida to the Jacksonville Beach area with his girlfriend and two dogs (aged 12 and 13, whose photos he showed me, beaming like a proud parent). He now lives and works out of his home studio a few miles from the beach.

The Ellameno Beat began with Reggie. He has a background as a producer but when it came time to find a band, he had a unique approach: he sought out childhood friends to play alongside. This choice, he elaborated, was rooted in his belief that connection and vibe is more valuable than anything else. There is almost a sense of brotherhood in the group, that can be seen onstage, and it encourages the audience to approach and enjoy the music in a similar way. Reggie smiled when I commented on how obvious their bond is, commenting that they naturally mess with each other on stage and off, and he is glad if people pick up on that chemistry.

Part of our conversation involved the reggae genre and their place within it. Reggie explained that they are inspired by a roots approach but that he plays what he feels without paying too much attention to genres. As he put it, you can try to play a specific type of music or sound like a particular band, but music has to come from within. He believes that you should show your true self and not try to be anything else, that you have to just take whatever is inside you, let it out, and be real. As for personal idols, Reggie immediately named John Brown’s Body. The band is not only his biggest influence but a group that he admitted being starstruck by when they worked together.

Tonight’s show was held at an ideal venue for Reggie. As a whole, they like to play venues like 1904 that are not just bars but real music venues. Next up for The Ellameno Beat, besides making some music videos, is to find their way around the Jacksonville scene. They hope to find similar bands to play with locally, who like touring and playing live shows just as much. Other goals include breaking into the festival scene, especially at Suwanee. Reggie reminisced about his first time at Bear Creek Music Festival and is interested in the possibility of playing there or at similar festivals in the future.

It was a real pleasure to speak with Reggie about his journey so far with The Ellameno Beat, and Jacksonville is certainly excited to welcome them.  You can check out their new single “One of Us” today.

[Artists To Watch] A Chat With The Ries Brothers

The young musical duo has played in support of JBoog, Dirty Heads, SOJA, Chicago and more.

The Ries Brothers (Kevin and Charlie), a rock-duo from Tampa Bay, Fla., have played in support of acts such as JBoog, Dirty Heads, SOJA, Chicago, Butch Trucks and more. I recently had the chance to speak with them after being blown away by their set at 1904 Music Hall in Jacksonville.

“I don’t really care about going to prom or anything like that because I’m so into music,” said Kevin when asked about being young.

Charlie added that he “did regular school until my senior year, and then we switched to online so we could start traveling basically.”

The brothers – ages 18 and 21 – play a unique blend of reggae, classic rock and funk to create plenty of good vibes. Kevin plays classic rock-inspired guitar and keyboards, harmonizing and trading off vocals with his older brother Charlie, who serves as the drummer and keyboard bassist.

They have done three tours, each of which has only been 2 1/2 to 3 weeks long. Kevin noted that the tour with Resinated (which also featured The Ellameno for a show) was their longest, falling between two and a half to three weeks.

Recently, the brothers recorded their debut album with Ted Bowne from Passafire. They explained that it was a great fit, citing their hard-rock influences in reggae as part of the reason. It took them two weeks to make the 13-track album.

Even though Ted played some of the bass lines and studio musicians contributed some of the other sounds on the album, The Ries Brothers are still passionate about playing and writing everything they do. In September, they will be returning to Jacksonville to play at Mavericks with Passafire.

“We’re stoked because the album will be out by then… the day of, probably,” said Charlie.

hen watching The Ries Brothers play live, it is obvious that they are incredibly well trained and well practiced. When I asked about their learning process, they explained that they began piano at 4 years old, before each picking up their instruments of choice. Kevin has only been playing for five and a half or six years and is most musically influenced by Jimi Hendrix.

“I dont even think about it any more, I’ll just pick up the guitar….5-6 hours a day,” Kevin said.

They have also taken some vocal lessons, but for them the vocals are a lot about listening to artists they love and getting inspiration. Morrisey and John Mayer were named by Charlie, while Kevin hopes to emulate artists like Scott from Stick Figure.

They plan to keep the band as a duo but use others musicians for live shows and recordings to add a dynamic sound.

“We’re gonnna be…an opening act for a while,” said Charlie. “When we get more to where we’re doing more headlining shows we want to make a band a part of the show. We headlined a show a few days ago in our hometown St Pete and we had a band for the second half of the show. We start as a duo and I come up front as lead singer for the second half of the show…[but] we will always keep the duo as an aspect.”

Kevin added that they “want to take it as far as we can as long as we can still be true …we have had a lot of offers to go different ways but it would mean we would have to give up a lot of what we could right.” He had a sparkling enthusiasm as he shook his head, telling me, “I think its gonna get a lot crazier.”

With upcoming dates with Common Kings and Passafire, as well as multiple NYC filmings, it is clear that big things are coming for the brothers. Their humble attitude will take them far, and even though things are quickly progressing for them, Charlie noted that they know “the lows make the highs way better.” These guys are a major artist to watch, with an incredible live energy and an immense potential.


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[Artists To Watch] The Movement

The Movement is a South Carolina based reggae group who pair purposeful musical elements with motivated lyrics to provide a surprisingly authentic sound. After their late afternoon set opening for Slightly Stoopid in St Augustine, Florida, I got to catch up with founding member Josh Swain. He was surprisingly candid and down-to-earth as we discussed The Movement’s journey, their message, and their future.

We agreed that late arrivers to the show had missed out on a great set from The Movement. It was a night of bands who are all headliners in their own right: Slightly Stoopid, Iration and The Green all followed The Movement’s early doors performance. Swain explained that The Movement had been playing some of their own headlining shows around Florida over the previous few days while the other bands surfed and relaxed. This is typical of a band who have put in over ten years of strenuous work to get where they are today. They are still rising in the reggae scene and since 2004 have been grinding to earn their place in the genre, as Swain explained.

The Movement are from South Carolina – not California, and not Hawaii. Swain confirmed that they did not grow up with the kind of music they now make – there is not a huge amount of support for reggae in the south. Swain says The Movement is all about a strong message. It became clear during the course of our chat that social awareness is important to the band – they realize that a lot of messed up things are happening in the world and people are struggling. They encourage others to do whatever it takes to survive. If their music helps anyone get through the day, even if it’s only the band themselves, then it’s worth doing.

The dedication he has to his band is evident. It was clear from talking to Josh Swain that The Movement does not make music just for fun but also to create the change their band name implies. It was a pleasure to speak with him and we look forward to seeing their progression continue.

[Album Review] Switchblade Villain – Chapter II

Switchblade Villain are a Tampa, FL four piece with a sound that is garage punk meets classic rock, and a brutally honest attitude to go with it. Led by Ray Vega on vocals and guitar, with Billy Anti (who recently played a slew of tour dates with The Queers) on lead guitar and vocals, the lineup is completed by Mike Sowers on drums and Sean Gentry on bass guitar.

Their new record ‘Chapter II’ blends a variety of old school elements with the band’s own distinctive personality to create a refreshingly real experience for fans. Their tracks feature quick-paced and repetitive verses, melodic Misfits-style vocals and heavy distortion. This sound creates an ideal backdrop for aggressively authentic, relatable lyrics.

‘Happy to be Miserable’ opens the record and showcases Switchblade Villain’s overall sound. Brash vocals are embraced and tracks are short and to the point. It is the kind of classic, catchy, skate park punk that is not overly complicated but has pit-worthy breakdowns and a genuine sense of passion.

As the record moves on to the pun-intended second track ‘Running to Know Where’, we are reminded that Switchblade Villain make essentially well-structured tracks. The old school simplicity with pleading backing vocals is a pleasant surprise amongst some of the less motivated new releases from other so-called punk bands. Switchblade Villain’s music is dramatic and under-produced, making ‘Running to Know Where’ a cool punk rock love song: Jack and Sally meets Syd and Nancy. The distortion is rough and the subject matter lyrically relatable.

The album’s halfway point is marked by the aptly titled ‘Halfway to the Bottom’. Twangy and anthemic, a different sound than the opening tracks, the rhythm includes marching snares here. There is an almost southern rock and roll grit to it, with lyrics about whiskey, weed, and cocaine.

Switchblade Villain feel true to the punk and rock genre without being clichéd. They are grungy but have range, seemingly influenced by classic rock. Their sound may be described best as sandpapered testosterone and blackened tracheas. Consistent percussive elements provide a sense of continuity and real drive, interrupted only by short, memorable spoken interludes.

‘You Only Like Me When You’re Drunk’ continues down the path of instrumentals that are rough but never get too heavy. Ray Vega and Billy Anti have vocals that are genuine, simple, and confrontational without the use of autotune or effects. A lyrically more personal track, it avoids both the political and the philosophical.

As this short record reaches the appropriately titled final song ‘Time To Go’, the album is tied together neatly. ‘Chapter II’ is fast-paced, with every track coming in at an average of around three minutes. In this respect, it could easily have been a cassette tape release 20 or 30 years ago. In both the tracks and the record as a whole there is a a sense of spatial awareness with effective use of guitar breakdowns that stand out but are not overlong or excessively complex. It may not be groundbreaking or futuristic, but Switchblade Villain are refreshingly real and offer an increasingly rare brand of punk rock.

[Concert Review] Slightly Stoopid at St Augustine Amphitheater

Photos by Abby Lynn Pierce

It has been an excellent summer for reggae music in Florida’s St Augustine Amphitheater. Slightly Stoopid’s recent appearance was loaded with big names and good vibes that brought people together in ways they might not have expected. On their summer tour, Slightly Stoopid is joined by Iration, J Boog and The Hot Rain Band and The Movement. These U.S.-based groups have an authenticity to their music but also an approachability, headiness, and sensuality that communicates easily with audiences.

The Movement is a highly motivated band that fuses alt-rock and reggae to convey a bold message that strikes on less heady and more confrontational subjects. The group is from the south, not California, Hawaii or some other palm-tree-laced marijuana-scented locale. They have worked themselves into a tight-knit scene of U.S. reggae music by touring for over 10 years. Their new single with Stick Figure shows a big step forward by proving The Movement can stand up to some of the bigger names in reggae. Their live sound is record-quality and they lent a great energy to the earliest part of the evening.

J Boog followed The Movement. The Hot Rain Band provided groovy instrumentalists and backup singers. The Hawaii-based singer has a more authentic and obviously island inspired flow that provides a reminder of the roots and inspirations of more modern and Americanized reggae acts. J Boog embraces a sensuality both lyrically and melodically and it was no surprise that his single “Let’s Do It Again” was one of the biggest crowd-pleasers of the night. With the addition of The Hot Rain Band, we were treated to a unique set that embraced J Boog’s hits while also emphasizing his ability to bring crowds into a jam they may  not have heard before.

As the sun set and excitement filled the amphitheater, Hawaii-based Iration brought their good vibes and upbeat fluidity to the stage. Their latest single “Fly With Me” is a preview of what is to come from Iration, but when I spoke with bassist Adam Taylor prior to the set, he made it clear that the new record will be different from what we have heard from them up until now. Unfortunately, they did not play any previews of the new, more pop inspired tracks that are to come.

Still, they treated us to all the hits from their repertoire. They are a fairly low-key act with no gimmicks or antics. One of the most noticeable things about their live show is that they are always beaming with smiles onstage. It is a radiant experience that is obviously designed for the fans.

Slightly Stoopid was the night’s headliner and they delivered like true headliners, despite playing alongside peers who have gained almost equal fame in their own rights. Slightly Stoopid has an upbeat, rap and rock inspired reggae sound with a heady, rebellious energy. There are chilled out moments in their music too, but those were a little less prevalent at this appearance. The interactive, high fiving, crowd hugging band mates projected a vibe that was easily reflected in the crowd. Groovy brass lends a bright eclectic sound that allows Slightly Stoopid to never fully depart from their roots.

Their front man moves around the stage, and the instrumentalists project a range of good vibes without speaking. Hits like “This Joint” are obviously 420 friendly but these guys succeed without screaming for the crowd to light up in a venue where people have been escorted out in handcuffs for smoking a joint. Of course the smell was there, alongisde the element of free-spirited positivity that these songs are meant to evoke.

As they played, whirring kaleidoscopic lights were projected at the amphitheater’s canvas awnings. We were treated to dandelion colored projections, deep violet beams and hazy cyans. Advances in technology paired with a talented lighting team make for an almost palpable light show.

As the night progressed, Slightly Stoopid played all their hits. They seem to have fun onstage and even though their sound isn’t perfect or record-quality, it is relentlessly fun to watch. As somewhat of a fan, I don’t think anyone expects vocal perfection from them. Their front man has more of a flow and a confidence than a perfection. They take time for guitar solos, brass sections, bass riffs and bright percussion, highlighting every element of their sound while keeping a steady pace through it all. It is the kind of highly engaging, hands swaying in the air music that draws people in and leaves dancing crowds sweaty and smiling as time flies by. We look forward to seeing more reggae come through The St Augustine venue, despite the heat it is a special venue where this type of music thrives.

[Concert Review] Thrice, Deftones & Rise Against – 06/24 Jacksonville, FL

Altwire contributor Liz Pena offers her take on the recent Thrice, Deftones and Rise Against show at Daily's Place in Jacksonville, FL

Thrice, Deftones, and Rise Against have joined forces this summer, forming one of the best lineups of the season. Each group has their own distinct history and approach when it comes to live rock music, so this collaboration is a treat for a variety of fans. I had seen Thrice and Rise Against play together about seven-eight years ago and looked forward to seeing what Deftones would bring to the lineup. Their show at Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL was filled with intensity from beginning to end and every act delivered a memorable show.

Thrice opened the evening with a more melodic sound than we have heard from them in the past. They embrace the passion in Dustin Kensrue’s voice, with more tender moments and not a lot of screaming at the beginning of the set. It was a different show than the last time I saw Thrice open for Rise Against. Their set was much heavier seven years ago and the crowd was much younger and pushier. Now they have a greater use of effects, distortion, and interesting percussion. Last year’s release “The Window” was a standout track of their set. The group has achieved a sense of synchronicity and growth and they are now able to stand up to acts like Deftones and Rise Against as more than just an opener.

Deftones followed as the sun set over downtown Jacksonville. They deliver a surprisingly classic rock and roll show. Frontman Chino Moreno enters the crowd, gripping the mic as fans who wave flags emblazoned with the Deftones’ logo grasp at his t-shirt. Lead guitarist Stephen Carpenter has a fan that blows his long hair back as he stands wide legged, armed with his Louis Vuitton guitar and delivers a headbanging, cinematic performance. The tour is equipped with an impressive lighting rig, especially overhead. Lighting has gotten so crazy and Deftones have it all, from gyroscopic LED squares to immense fog cut with fluorescent, acid colored beams of light.

Deftones deliver a range of sounds and there is a distinct contrast between melodic radio hits like “Change” and heavier songs in their repertoire that start pits and send heads crashing up and down. Moreno’s vocal is record quality live, from the more melodic verses to the “Knife Party” screams delivered into the stage’s crimson glow, synchronized with perfectly timed strobes. This tour is highly detailed as far as production value. The production quality paired with classic performance elements makes for a high energy show. Whether Moreno is going into crowd or shouting from a raised platform into a packed house, fists and devil horns stay in the air throughout their set.

Rise Against came out to an audience that was now craving more of the pure rock and roll that Deftones had just delivered. Despite being an alternative radio mainstay, Rise Against continues to deliver an authentic punk rock show live.

Tim McIlrath’s signature gritty voice is highly intense throughout their set and he always makes it a priority to pass messages he believes in to the fans. The entire group has had an edgy, sociopolitical approach throughout their career. Regardless of any fame they attain, they have maintained their role as activists. They believe in fighting to survive despite anything and communicated that vividly to the crowd.

Each act that night made the most of their short set. Rise Against played their biggest hits like “Give It All” and “Ready to Fall” early in their set. McIlrath takes a powerful stance, imploring rhythmic claps from the crowd that break into fists thrown in the air as breakdowns approach. They have a truly punk sense of movement about the stage. Lead guitarist Zach Blair jumps into the air as he exerts dynamic solos.

Rise Against had played with Thrice before but this lineup at Daily’s Place made for a totally different experience. Their fans have grown up and crowds are less violent, but still high energy. Despite their alt-rock radio popularity, we are reminded of their punk roots live. Rise Against, Thrice, and Deftones all brought forward showmanship, skill, and energy on their Jacksonville FL summer tour stop. Each group gave an authentic, kinetic performance and proved their lasting worth to the alternative genre.